Innerlandscape Art

 

The Tools for dream interpretation are relatively simple. They include Being open, receptive, flexible, self aware and non intrusive.  We all dream and that gives us experience with understanding their impact.  The better we understand our own symbolic process the better our ability to “Witness” and be objective with the intrapsychic content of another person.  It contributes to greater objectivity in listening to and receiving the dreams of your clients

Holding a sacred space for the sharing of a dream is important if you want your work with symbolic content to progress.  Not accepting the ego’s need to push the message aside and label it 'only a dream' will increase the significance your experiences when paying attention to this content and sharing dreams

Knowledge and Understanding in the language of symbols and metaphor. Gather wisdom through texts, stories, dictionaries

Although there are no convenient ‘one size fits all’ approaches to dream interpretation, it is highly recommended that you explore the different sites in this course.  Additionally, browsing the beautifully illustrated "dictionaries of dreams" and their interpretation will increase your own breadth of understanding with regard to the special type of understanding and translation that being able to read dreams requires.  I have noticed a synchronicity in my own personal and professional life when I am tuning into this information.  The perfect song or poem or movie or dream image appears to carry the message of what I am working on personally or with a client to the next level.   It appears as a messages from the universe that the path is clear and ready for the journey.   I encourage clients to stay open to their conscious life for this same type of message.

SYMBOLS: THE DREAM   ALPHABET

We are such stuff
  As dreams are made on, and our little life
    Is rounded with a sleep.
      - William Shakespeare, The Tempest (Prospero at IV, i)

Symbols are the dream alphabet.  There are no definitive interpretations for specific symbols. There is no one to one correlation. How the symbols are arranged in the dream: the place, the person, the setting, the time, will contribute to the meaning of the symbol. Ancient symbols are everywhere in our everyday life in many forms and in many teachings. Junior high school students are often assigned the task of recognizing the different symbols of the Greek and Roman Gods throughout advertising today, from the winged feet of Mercury to the lightening bolt of Zeus or the trident of Neptune. The Zia or sun symbol of the Pueblo Indians decorates the license plates of NM but also is used throughout many symbol and Jungian sites. Our most basic symbols include numbers, colors and the elements of the earth. My studies to understand more of the potential meanings of these symbols while working with art, sandplay and dreamwork led me to the study of the Medicine Wheel, astrology and Tarot.  You may choose an entirely different path to uncover the deeper  levels of meaning but please stay open to any systems your clients may present.  In this section I will present elementary guides and provide links for exploring these symbols and strongly encourage you to delve deeper and investigate the line of study you find most comfortable to gain further knowledge.

The interpretation of a symbol will have levels of association: personal, cultural, universal and transpersonal.

The most important level of meaning with which to begin all dream interpretation is the PERSONAL ASSOCIATION: the dreamer’s feedback on the dream.

  • What do you make of the dream? 

  • What are your associations to the symbols? 

  • How do you tell the dream?  What is their choice of words conveying? 

  • Do you favor a kinesthetic, visual or auditory system of communication? 

  • Why is the dream appearing at this time in your life? 

  • How does the dream make you feel? 

  • If it brings anxiety or fear what is the nature of that fear? 

  • What is it that causes you unrest? 

  • What would ease the discomfort? 

  • How can the material be honored and contained?

These are questions you keep in mind to guide your understanding.  However, do not bombard the dreamer with questions.  You will notice that when a dream is being shared the energy in the room shifts.  There is a sense of softness as if entering a place where things don’t have hard lines, angles and definition.  An onslaught of questions can disrupt this flow. Just let the process unfold

Cultural aspects of dreams often provide the background setting and color of the dream.  Although many people dream ‘across culture’, it is important to recognize and respect the nature of a dreamer's home culture in their material.  Many people feel that since we are living in North America the basic symbols of the people indigenous to North America are essential to our understanding of our content. This site is very rich in its presentation of Native America. http://www.runningdeerslonghouse.com/index2.html We are truly a world of many cultures and many dreamers feel an affinity with different cultures or times during their life. Please visit www.symbol.net for a comprehensive listing of signs and symbols across cultures and areas of study.

Universal Dreams are dreams that Dr. Patricia Garfield says have existed across time and culture throughout history.  In the following article she illustrates the themes and proposes that by creating a catalog or structure of dream themes we may be able to take dream interpretation and understanding to a new level.  Please read the linked article about universal dreams and their mirror opposites.

http://www.patriciagarfield.com/publications/udreams_99dreamtime16.htm

PATRICIA GARFIELD’S 12 UNIVERSAL DREAM THEMES

1.0 CHASE OR ATTACK 

1.5 EMBRACE OR LOVE
 
1.6 MEETING A STAR

1.7 HAVING A MAGICAL ANIMAL FRIEND

2.0 INJURY OR DEATH  

2.5 HEALING OR REBIRTH

3.0 VEHICLE TROUBLE 
 
3.5 DRIVING SKILLFULLY

4.0 HOUSE AND PROPERTY DAMAGE OR LOSS

4.1 LOSING VALUABLE POSSESSION

 4.2 BEING IN A HOUSE ON FIRE
 
4.5 HOUSE OR PROPERTY IMPROVEMENT
 
5.0 POOR TEST OR OTHER PERFORMANCE

 5.5. GIVING AN OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE

6.0 FALLING OR DROWNING

6.5. FLYING JOYFULLY THROUGH THE AIR; SWIMMING JOYFULLY

7.0 BEING NAKED OR INAPPROPRIATELY DRESSED IN PUBLIC 

7.5 DRESSING HARMONIOUSLY AND HANDSOMELY

8.0 MISSING THE BOAT OR OTHER TRANSPORT

8.5. TRAVELING HAPPILY 

9.0 MACHINE OR TELEPHONE MALFUNCTIONS

9.5. OPERATING MACHINE OR TELEPHONE EASILY

10.0 DISASTERS, NATURAL OR MANMADE 

10.5 NATURAL BEAUTY OR MIRACLES

11.0 BEING LOST OR TRAPPED

11.1 LOST

 11.2 PARALYZED OR STUCK OR TRAPPED

11.50 DISCOVERING NEW SPACES

11.51 FINDING A NEW ROOM IN YOUR HOUSE

12.0 MENACED BY THE DEAD  

12.5 GUIDED BY THE DEAD

For this complete article and more online offerings by internationally known dream expert, Patricia Garfield, PHD please visit http://www.patriciagarfield.com At this site she also includes free downloads for you personal use on Dreams and Grief, The Difference between the Dreams of Men and Women, Universal Dreams and Dreams of Pregnancy and Childbirth.

THE FOLLOWING MATERIALS ARE PROVIDED TO HELP GET YOU STARTED WITH YOUR EXPLORATION OF SYMBOLS AND THEIR MEANINGS.  PLEASE ENJOY YOUR EXPLORATIONS AND  INVESTIGATE THE SITES THAT MOST INTEREST YOU.

BASIC QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER WHEN INTERPRETING SYMBOLS

  • WHAT ARE THE  QUALITIES OF THE IMAGE? THREATENING? WELCOMING? HOT? COLD? LARGE? SMALL? SOFT? HARD? SHARP? FUZZY?

  • WHAT IS YOUR FIRST REACTION UPON HEARING ITS DESCRIPTION?

  • DO YOU FEEL IT ANYWHERE IN YOUR BODY?

  • DOES IT HAVE A SOUND? A COLOR? A SMELL? 

  • IS THERE A PARTICULAR ELEMENT ASSOCIATED WITH THE SYMBOL?  DOES IT BRIDGE MORE THAT ONE ELEMENT? 

  • WHAT IS ITS USUAL PURPOSE, FUNCTION OR SERVICE?

  • HOW DOES IT APPEAR FACILITATE OR HINDER THE DREAMER?

  • DO YOU HAVE ANY PERSONAL ASSOCIATIONS TO THE SYMBOL?

  • WHAT IS ITS LOCATION?

  • IS THERE SOMETHING UNUSUAL OR UNCHARACTERISTIC ABOUT ITS APPEARANCE OR LOCATION?

THE ELEMENTS

The elements refer to the common element so the earth: Fire, Water, Air and Earth.  To understand the meaning of an element we want to look at the quality it presents within the dream and how that relates to the dreamer’s life. Is the quality peaceful calm and strengthening? Or is there a changeable, transformative, destructive or chaotic feel to the element?  Is it a gentle message or a force to be reckoned with?

 

THE ELEMENTS

· FIRE, energy,  hot, initiating, creative and destructive, it relates to energy, anger, and expression. Its colors include reds, oranges and gold. Symbols may include the sun, stars, comets, fires, matches, smoke, Apollo, the phoenix, Icarus

 

· EARTH  form, stability, sensuality, nurturance, solidity.  Its colors are usually rich browns and greens.  Its symbols include the forest, caves, mountains, Mother Earth, Venus, earthquakes.

 

· AIR movement, objectivity ,the ability to speak and communicate, and detachment.  Its colors are blues and whites.  Symbols may include, wings, birds, clouds, messengers, wind hurricanes, Mercury

 

· WATER is depth, fluidity, emotion, mystery, assimilation and changeability.  Its colors are deep blues, turquoise, greens, purples and black.  Its symbols may includes, lakes, rivers, ponds, Neptune, mermaids, fish, whales, shells, tsunamis.

 

In Buddhist traditions the transcendent element of ether or space is included.  For More on Buddhist teachings and symbols please visit www.snowlionpub.com    In Chinese systems the elements of metal and wood are  included.  For a comparative discussion of Greek, Chinese and Indian interpretations of the element s, please read this excellent article at www.friesian.com/elements.htm

Commonly Encountered Symbols and Their Possible Meanings

Phoenix Helm Simpson copyright 2003 all rights reserved

IMAGE

POSSIBLE MEANINGS

 SYMBOLS

Monsters and Demons

 unconscious desires, motivation, fears, impulses, instincts

as varied and fearful as our ability to imagine, what are the abilities and qualities of the monster?

Animals

subconscious desires, motivation, pets,  instincts

domestic and wild will denote different qualities

Disasters

 things beyond our control

earthquakes, floods, fire element will give special clues and meaning

Houses

structure of Self , personality , Lower levels= less conscious behavior/trait

all shapes and sizes usually very personally oriented

Buildings

 

thought forms, belief systems, values, memories of places visited, lessons learned

note size, welcoming, cold, warm, distant, clearly defined or chaotically structured

Bridges

connection, relationship

note the type and strength

Vehicles

movement, facilitation, assistance

note type, emergency?, rugged, smooth, sturdy, hobbled

Obstacles

challenges to be met, value conflict between soul and personality, desire and duty, action and value

flat tires, roadblocks, fallen trees, barriers, fences, warning signs, fear, trepidation

Trees

 organic symbol of self, planted in earth reaching towards heavens, oldest living things

note type location, many trees have special meanings oak = straight, pine = ever green, willow = flexibility, fruit = sustenance

Fences

barrier, boundary, protection, ego boundary, healthy psychological defense

note type, white picket, barbed wire, gate, no entrance

Nature

forces beyond our control, acceptance

 wind, water, fire, earth, space, stars

Mountain

stability, individuation, attainment, accomplishment, challenge

note location and quality, wooded, tundra, ice, snow, tropics

Ocean

powerful, ever-changing force, place of dreams and visions, unconscious

calm, rough, peaceful, noisy, threatening, welcoming

Island

separation, detachment, relaxation, isolation

note qualities and associations

Journey

path of self discovery, becoming

 walk, run, hike, stroll, take a vehicle

Battle

conflict between will and desire, personality and soul

 

Sex

integration of new material, joining of opposites

intimacy, intercourse, note quality

Birth

emergence of new sense of self

babies, kittens, chicks, eggs, bunnies

Death

loss, letting go , transformation

after a fire, cemeteries, death process, graves, tombstones, fall leaves, bones

 

Numbers are our most commonly used symbols.  They communicate  across culture.  Their study becomes very abstract very quickly: a fact you discover in talking with any mathematician.  Numerology,  the study of numbers and meanings,  appears in cultures as far back as   In numerology the numbers 0-9 are most prominent with double-digit numbers being adding together and reduced to their single numerical value.   In numerology, people use birth dates and names to assign character and predictive meaning.  For use in symbol interpretation I include the following simplified chart.  What is very important in looking an appearance and recurrence of numbers in symbolic work is the clients association with the numbers.  For Instance if a client shared a dream that had several references to the number six, you might want to note if anything significant had happened in the client’s life 6 weeks, months or years ago or when the client was six years old.  If the client relates to numerology or a system like the Enneagram you might research a text or visit the following sitehttp://www.enneagraminstitute.com/ to gather information for better understanding of the client’s world.  I treat these belief systems with the same respect for the diversity in any culture or religion.  We are here to do our best to understand and help each other through the darker times.  If their system of viewing the world includes a different system or language with whose meaning I am unfamiliar, I will do my best to gain some understanding as quickly as possible.  

 

Zero, 0

The ellipse, all and nothing, a container, risk, faith

One, 1

the point the original being, original ideas and energy

Two, 2

The line the possibility for relationship duality, opposition

Three, 3

The triangle, creativity, the product of the union

Four, 4

square foundation stability structure

Five, 5

Pentagon, change, creative conflict

 Six 6

Hexagon, 2 triangles, balance and harmony

Seven, 7

Septagon forward movement, will and personality in unison

Eight, 8

Octagon, power the structure on top of a foundation, soul and personality in unison

Nine, 9

Completion, teaching, assimilation

Ten, 10

Completion and beginning anew

 

ARCHETYPES

Dreams and myths are constellations of archetypal images. They are not free compositions by an artist who plans them for artistic or informational effects. Dreams and myths happen to human beings. The archetype speaks through us. It is a presence and a possibility of "significance." The ancients called them "gods" and "goddesses."

What then is an archetype? Jung discovered that humans have a "preconscious psychic disposition that enables a (man) to react in a human manner." These potentials for creation are actualized when they enter consciousness as images. There is a very important distinction between the "unconscious, pre- existent disposition" and the "archetypal image." The archetype may emerge into consciousness in myriads of variations. To put it another way, there are a very few basic archetypes or patterns which exist at the unconscious level, but there are an infinite variety of specific images which point back to these few patterns. Since these potentials for significance are not under conscious control, we may tend to fear them and deny their existence through repression. This has been a marked tendency in Modern Man, the man created by the French Revolution, the man who seeks to lead a life that is totally rational and under conscious control.  If you have not already visited this site on archetypes, please visit the following link for a description of the archetypes and exploration of Jungian theory
http://www.acs.appstate.edu/~davisct/nt/jung.html#Definition
 

Archetypes are those characters that appear through time in stories and myths carrying importance by their mere presence and message.

Archetypal images include:

· Hero the person on a quest for wholeness who must endure the task of initiation

· Healer the wise man or woman with knowledge of ways of healing due to their own suffering

The Wounded Healer   This concept originates in Ancient Greece, with the myth of Chiron.   Chiron was a centaur, a healer who himself had an incurable wound.

· TRICKSTER, Coyote in Native American Lore the prankster who turns your world upside down to remind you there is always another perspective

· SHADOW, the villain, the thief or murder that threatens your life energy or beliefs , unacceptable or unintegrated parts of SELF

· TEACHER can be any number of images, which lead the dreamer to greater self-understanding often through great effort.

    · CHILD,  innocence, which embraces life but also, requires attention and protection of a new and developing aspect of Self.

  • SELF  mandala, light angel new birth

More Symbols Sites to Explore

TAROT AND ASTROLOGY

Tarot and Astrology use  archetypal images and numbers  which make their way through our consciousness on a regular basis .  The following  material is provided for your information on the symbols.  I am not ascribing any divination powers to their study in this course.   People have used these systems and their symbols for centuries to transmit teachings and  knowledge in an attempt to illuminate man’s quest for universal meaning. Their meanings that have been ascribed to them  for thousands of years.  Whether you “believe” in them or not is irrelevant to the fact that they exist and millions of people search sites for “their horoscope” daily.  They provide a basis of communication through symbols that people recognize from the “the Wheel of Fortune” to the Grim Reaper of “Death”  There are very few people that do not “know their sign” and some attributes associated with it.  This material is presented as a study of archetypal symbols, synchronicity and man’s quest for deeper meaning.  However, if this material is uncomfortable to you in any way, please feel free to skip over it and explore the other symbol sites.

The Tarot is from the word is derived from the word ROTA and is based upon the Qaballah, the tree of life.  The cards of the Major Arcana contain archetypal images than point to the development of an individual’s consciousness along the path of life.  The Minor Arcana concern the more mundane aspects of life and eventually evolved in to today’s playing card with the 4 suits and 13 cards.   We will look at the symbols represented by the traditional card and the equivalent form the Medicine Woman’s Inner Guidebook  by Carol Bridgesare presented.  Traditional Tarot decks our based upon medieval symbolism whereas the Medicine Woman deck includes Native American Symbolism combined with Eastern teachings.  For Native American Teachings I would Also recommend the Medicine Cards and the Sacred Path Cards.  There are very interesting teaching stories shared throughout these decks.

  The Major Arcana

Traditional          

Medicine Woman              

General Meaning  

0   The Fool 

  The Seed      

Risk, Faith to go into the unknown, The first step

1   The Magician   

  Resources

Recognizing  your strengths, power  and resources                                                                                

2   The High Priestess

Seeker 

Trusting intuition  

3   The Empress 

Bounty  

 Enjoying body, comfort and  fertility  

4  The Emperor  

Command 

Understanding structure      

5 The Hierophant

   Peacemaker   

Teaching and understanding The world from divine center

6  The Lovers                   

Ecstasy   

 Unification of opposites  

7  The Chariot  

 The Warrior   

Achievement , personal 

8 Strength 

Healing      

Balancing soul and personality

9  The Hermit 

The Guide  

Hearing and following your Higher Self

10  The Wheel of Fortune 

The Harvest   

Honoring cycles of change,Fortune, and abundance, sharing

11  Justice 

Balance 

 universal law, humility in the face of thelarger picture, karma  

12  The Hanged Man

Vision   

Seeing things from a totally new perspective  

13  Death                         

Sunset

Letting go of the old, past, transformation, endings

14 Temperance

  Blend     

Integrating past andfuture, strengthening through experience. strength gained through 'trial by fire'

15  The Devil

Trickster   "lived spelled backwards"

  Self-created limitation through your mind and past experience, restrictive beliefs

16  The Tower

The Pierced   Shield

  Ridding one's Self of false beliefs and pride  

17 The Star

The   Grandfathers  

   Bringing in higher wisdom , honoring the wisdom of the ancestors

18 The Moon

The  Grandmothers  

  Following one's soul , one's vision and inner guidance

19 The Sun                        

Rebirth

 New stage of psychic development  

20 Judgment  

 Discernment 

 Release from old Self , ability to see beyond duality and either/or, better worse judgment, acceptance

21 The World  

The Dancer 

 A free soul, attainment

Astrology is the study of the Wheel of the Zodiac that like Tarot describes our attempt to understand the development of consciousness and meaning in the universe.  Astrology as an area of study has been around for thousand of years.  What most people are familiar with is their "sun sign" where the sun was at the time poof their birth.  A horoscope designed for an individual is determined by their time, date and place of birth. The horoscope is cast and the position of the planets and their relationships are described. This means although you may have your sun in Scorpio, your other planets can be in many other signs giving you a totally different demeanor.   As with any tool for understanding, study and resonance are essential.  If it makes no sense and holds no interest for you.  to you don't use it.  If you are interested in further exploring astrology please visitwww.astrodienst.com  This sites is operated and maintained by Robert Hand and Liz Greene tow prominent astrology scholars.  Liz Greene is a Jungian analyst that has written extensively on the archetypes and the deeper psychological guidance found in astrology.  Robert Hand is currently involved in and extensive project of researching the Ancient Texts. 

The Zodiac is divided into 12 signs.  Each sign is associated with n element a quality and a planet.  I have found astrology most easily understood as related to the developmental stages of being human. For the sake of brevity and an introduction to the meanings attributed to sun signs and the developmental levels.  This does not in any way indicate that people born under the later signs are " more evolved than those born in the beginning of the zodiac.  This is presented a developmental way of understanding the movement of the Zodiac.  The evolvement of the individual soul is far beyond the scope of this paper.  The elements have been addressed earlier in this course.  The qualities refer to the cycle of creation and change. 

Cardinal-initiating beginning, forceful

Fixed- stable, resolute, predictable

Mutable-changing, assimilating

Sign

Ruling Planet

Symbol

 Quality/ Element

 Developmental Issue

Aries

Mars

Ram- will

Cardinal Fire

infancy, "I am" " The world is me"

Taurus

Venus

Bull-material, sensual comfort

Fixed Earth

toddler, "I want,  This is mine"

Gemini

Mercury

The Twins- duality, thinking, communication

Mutable Air

child, "There are others"

Cancer

Moon

Crab the home is within

Cardinal Water

Latency, "There is family, Home"

Leo

Sun

Lion Personality and Soul

Fixed fire

Adolescence, "Look at me trying on new views"

Virgo

Mercury

The Virgin sacrifice and service

Mutable Earth

young adult, "I can be of service to others"

Libra

Venus

The Scales balance and Justice

Cardinal Air

Adult, " Partnerships, Balance"

Scorpio

Pluto

The Scorpion Regeneration

Fixed Water

Adult, "Transformation from union Partnership"

Sagittarius

Jupiter

The Archer new realms of knowledge

Fixed Fire

Adult, " My thoughts can pierce the boundaries of my beliefs"

Capricorn

Saturn

The Goat with The Fish tale

Cardinal Earth

Adult " I can reach deep within to bring new structure and achievements forward"

Aquarius

Uranus

The Water Bearer Emotion/ Thought/Intuition

Fixed Air

Adult" Let's stir things up with new, "out there" ideas.  The collective is greater than the individual

Pisces

Neptune

The Fish swimming in Opposite Directions

Mutable Water

Adult " When one discovers the truth , one will see the exception. The unending cycle of change."

     

 

 

 

 FOR MORE ON SACRED SYMBOLS PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE.

Sacred Symbols 
by Barbara Biziou


”Nature is a temple where, from living pillars,
Confused words are sometimes allowed to escape;
Here man passes, through forests of symbols,
Which watch him with looks of recognition”—Charles Baudelaire

Symbols are the symbolic language of the soul. Carl Jung theorized that we are able to go beyond the artificial barriers imposed by language to speak directly to our unconscious. These symbols and images allow us to become time travelers as we connect to our past as well as connect to other nations and religions.

Jung recognized that the universal symbols common to many world religions are archetypal products of humankind’s natural religious function. Two of the most important universal symbolic images that he studied were the circle, or mandala—a symbol of unity and eternity—and the cosmic tree, which can be regarded both as a symbol of the self, or as a cosmic axis linking the underworld, earth and heavens.

Some other cosmic symbols are:

Seed: potential of life
Dot: Supreme Being
Sun: male principal
Moon: female principal
Square: earth
Spiral: cosmic force
Wheel: solar power
Square: manifestation, foundation
Rainbow: a bridge between earth and spirit, the celestial serpent, the highest state of spiritual attainment before enlightenment.
Cross: cosmic axis, union of Earth and spirit, union of Opposites, spiritual union, sacrifice
Star of David: the downward –pointed triangle-the solar masculine principle-life. The upward pointing triangle-the lunar, feminine principle.
The Interlocking Triangles: as above, so below.
Egg: source of life
Water: unconscious, the feminine, the Great Mother, birth, purification
Fire: transmutation, purification, power, passion, illumination, and inspiration
Air: breath, thought, communication, and intellect
Earth: The Great Mother, fertility, nourishment, physical body, foundation, solidity
Cosmic Mountain: creation of the world
Ying/Yang Circle: represents opposition and synergy to the Taoists
AUM: the Hindu sacred syllable, the essence of all sounds
The Ankh: the ancient Egyptian sign of life, which seems to prefigure the Christian cross

Sacred symbols contain cosmic beliefs and therefore can be used as powerful tools in our own spirit journey. By honoring them we gain access to enormous resources, which we then can use in our personal and collective rituals and spiritual practices.

As Clare Gibson in Sacred Symbols (Saraband Inc.) so elegantly writes, “Because sacred thought involves the intangible and supernatural, it cannot help but be expressed symbolically. The primary function of a symbol is to express a concept by employing a means of visual shorthand A symbol has many advantages over the written or spoken word: it transcends the barriers of language; its message can be instantly registered and absorbed; and most importantly in terms of the sacred, it encourages a mystical or metaphysical reaction in achieving a closer communion with the sacred. Symbols are powerful and complex forms of communication despite their graphic simplicity.”

“In any kind of inner work, whether it be in dreams, meditation, contemplation, guided imagery, or creative visualizations, symbols appear to us as signposts or keys and they function as containers, revealers, or concealers of meaning to enable us to penetrate deeper into the mystery of life.”—Angeles Arien, The Tarot Handbook (Arcus Publishing Co).


Symbolism in the Tarot

According to Angeles Arien “the tarot is a symbolic map of consciousness.

Here are some of her interpretations of the Major Arcana or the twenty-two universal principles or laws:

The Fool: one who walks without fear
The Magician: the communicator
The High Priestess: the independent self-knower
The Empress: the nurturer, comforter, beautifier
The Emperor: the pioneer, builder, doer, visionary
The Hierophant: The teacher, counselor, and consultant
The Lovers: synthesizer of dualities, polarities and oppositions
The Chariot: the generator, motivator, and traveler
The Adjustment/Justice: the mediator, adjuster, and arbitrator
The Hermit: the mediator, philosopher, sage, wise man
The Wheel of Fortune: abundance prosperity, fortune
Strength: passion, awareness, and aliveness
The Hanged Man: the transformer
Death/Rebirth: releaser, eliminator, and expander
Art/Temperance: the creator, the alchemist
The Devil: the joker, worker, and stabilizer
The Tower: restore, healer, and renovator
The Star: self-confident, self-esteem
The Moon: the chooser, the romantic
The Sun: the originator, co-creator
Judgment: the analyst, evaluator, and seer
The Universe: the completion, the initiator

Animal Symbolism

Many cultures have traditionally used animals as symbolism. Native people often view animals as teachers, as each represents a beneficial quality that can help strengthen and educate a person. Once we understand each animal’s essence—the specific gifts and strengths the creature represents—we can then incorporate a particular animal into a ritual and ask its guidance.

For further information see Animal Medicine Cards (Jamie Sams and David Carson, Bear and Company).

Bear: introspection, incubating ideas and bring them to fruition, cultivating power and support
Beaver: architecture and building, teaches structure, problem solving, and the ability to work with others
Butterfly: transformation, moving forward, trusting life to support you
Cat: independence, playfulness, caution, and gracefulness
Crow: intuition, justice
Deer: gentleness, peace
Dog: loyalty, guardian, and protector
Dolphin: power of play, unconditional love, the ability to release stored emotions through breath
Dove: peace, calm, and simplicity
Eagle: ability to see above the mundane, clarity, vision, and connection to the divine
Fox: confidence, cunning, and independence
Frog: connection to water rituals, a cleansing of spirit, body and mind, easing change
Horse: power, dependability
Hummingbird: joy, celebration life, and the ability to feel emotionally “lighter”
Lion: leadership, action, assists one in moving through fear
Owl: wisdom, clairvoyance, and clarity of thought
Peacock: wholeness, authority of self, and the expression of one’s own beauty
Rabbit: creativity helps one face fear
Raccoon: unmasking the truth helps one accept hidden aspects of the self, the ability to play many roles in life
Snake: sexuality, psychic energy, death and rebirth, immortality
Spider: integration, inner connection, and creativity
Swan: ability to see one’s own beauty and goodness
Tiger: confidence, spontaneity, and strength
Turtle: connection with earth grounding helps one slow down and focus on the present
Wolf: teaching, the ability to establish healthy boundaries, encourages friendship and sense of community

Our ancestors express themselves to us in the sacred symbols of our cultures and religions. For example, my grandfather, being Cherokee, comes to me when I light a cigar and call his name. He appears in the clothes and age when I most needed him in my childhood. I know he is near me when I smell cigar smoke for no obvious reason.

Coyote: people mistakenly dismiss coyote as a trickster, but he is much more than a trickster. Through humor, coyote brings together opposing cultures worldviews and people who think that they are enemies. By making them laugh at themselves and each other, they can see how silly their differences appear to the spirits and animals. Coyote embodies the fool.—Lewis Mehl Madrona, Coyote Medicine (Fireside). 

(Barbara Biziou and Lewis Mehl Madrona will be facilitating a weekend retreat in August on “The Wisdom of the Ancestors.”)

Crystals as Symbols:

A crystal is an earth element—a mineral or gemstone. Both ancient cultures and modern science have utilized the mysterious qualities of crystals, which have the ability to receive and transmit energy.

Amber: balance
Amethyst: spiritual awareness, transmutation, healing
Aquamarine: purification, healing, calming
Bloodstone: courage, physical energy
Calcite: balance, peaceful meditation
Carnelian: sex, self-esteem, creativity
Copper: purification, inspiring love, making peace
Fluorite: healing, releasing unwanted energies
Gold: courage, self-awareness, self-confidence, wealth, and virtue
Hematite: encouraging willpower, concentration
Herkimer Diamond: dream recall
Jade: fertility, wisdom, and tranquility
Lapis Lazuli: communication, healing
Malachite: protection, money
Moonstone: love, psychic awareness, feminine principle
Nickel: youth, beauty, growth, and adaptation
Obsidian: inner growth, psychic development
Opal: passion, love, and emotional expression
Pearl: purity, integrity, focus, wisdom
Quartz: change, focus
Red Jasper: compassion
Rhodolite: love
Rose Quartz: love, compassion
Silver: fertility, nourishment, and growth
Tiger’s Eye: empowerment, willpower, courage, and clarity
Tin; flexibility
Topaz: new beginnings
Tourmaline: healing, balance
Turquoise: balance, friendship, positive thinking


For further information see Love is in the Earth by A. Melody (Earth Love Publishing House).

Symbolic images can communicate an essence of their meaning even to people from different cultures and religious faiths. For example, walking the labyrinth has become a popular event although few realize that they are re-enacting a symbolic Christian pilgrimage or the route that Theseus took to kill the minotaur, half-bull, half-human beast that King Minos is supposed to have kept at the heart of a labyrinth in ancient Crete. One can appreciate the beauty of the gardens of the Taj Mahal without being of the Islamic tradition which views these gardens as images of paradise containing cypress trees, symbolizing death, and fruit trees, symbolizing life.

In Japanese Zen Buddhism, gardens are made to symbolize the whole of creation, while many use this symbolism in rituals to celebrate Mother Earth.


Sacred Herbs and Flowers:

For thousands of year, we have used flowers and herbs to symbolize the power of earth. Here are a few:

Basil: clarity, prosperity
Bay Leaf: protection
Bamboo: good fortune
Daffodil: new beginnings
Iris: love
Lotus: rebirth
Parsley: protection
Rose: love
Tobacco: fertility
Sage: purification
Rosemary: loyalty, friendship
Thyme: courage, health
Ylang-Ylang: sexual energy